What did Richard III say when a planning proposal was submitted for building a car park…
“Over my dead body”
Tamworth Assembly Rooms Archaeological dig drew to a close this week following 2 weeks of excavating ahead of the extension and redevelopment of the building. Although we didn’t find our ‘king in the car park’ it did provide a small glimpse at Tamworth from times past.
The initial couple of days proved a little underwhelming when Wessex Archaeology reported that the first excavation site towards the rear of the car park; had found nothing at all. The Arts & Events team waited eagerly as another trench was dug to explore further but again no evidence of previous activity was found. It was looking like the dig was about to be closed down without finding anything, until… heavy rain over night on Tuesday 13th September uncovered a fragment of what the archaeologists believed to be pottery dating back to the medieval era.
As digging continued it became clear that the pottery sherd had come from a pit dug into the ground. Eventually evidence of 3 pits were uncovered all containing more fragments of pottery as well as animal bones, possibly the leftovers of animals consumed by previous dwellers at the site.
The pottery sherds were dated to the 12th or 13th century telling us that these pits were probably dug by medieval Tamworthians to dispose of their household waste! Our favourite find of the dig was a broken handle made from bone and incised with lines to make a decorative pattern. The remains of the iron rivets can still be seen showing how it would once have been fixed, perhaps, to a knife or other small implement.
Despite further digging across the site no other exciting discoveries were made although a mystery brick platform probably from the late 19th, or 20th century did appear just below the surface near the entrance to the carpark – this will require some further research to discover what it was for!
So after two weeks of the digging the archaeologists finally packed up and departed taking their finds for further analysis. And, although there was no king under the carpark or second Staffordshire hoard the everyday items that have been discovered help us to learn a bit more about Tamworth’s great history. On Thursday 22nd and Tuesday 27th November the site was opened up to enable visitors to see the site and discover the items that had been found as well as learn about archaeology and what archaeologists do.
The Arts & Events team would like to thank Wessex Archaeology for putting on two very interesting open days which saw large numbers across both days. We hope that everyone who attended enjoyed the experience and are as excited as we are to see the next phase of the project.